Our nation’s education sector has always been the state’s stepchild. Its failures and weaknesses cannot be overestimated and while this plaguing issue does not make it to authorities’ concerns, it does appear in public discussions. At the Sindh Literature Festival held in Karachi last week, Sindh Madressatul Islam University vice-chancellor Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh raised the issue of Pakistan’s university rankings. For the second year in a row, none of Pakistan’s universities have made it to the world’s top 500 institutes. Pakistan’s universities feature somewhere in the top 800 and that too, includes only three universities. Compared to this, India has seven universities and China 24 in the world’s top 500. While students in neighbouring countries can rely on public institutions for quality education, in Pakistan, whoever can afford to study abroad would choose to do so.
Pakistan’s spending on higher education: a mere two per cent, is less than the spending in India, Iran and Bangladesh, which is a reflection of our priorities and is in turn reflected in the scholarship, or lack of, produced here. As things stand, the level of academic scholarship is so poor that COMSATS, among the best known universities of the country, held a conference titled ‘Jinns and Black magic’, where the guest speaker was introduced as a ‘spiritual cardiologist’.
In a report released two months ago, the UN said that Pakistan’s education is more than 60 years behind the rest of the world in primary and secondary education targets, respectively. Pakistan has one of the largest and fastest growing youth populations in the world with an estimated 59 million people from 4-10 years of age. We must ask what are we giving this population? At this rate and with our foundations so rickety, we will never be able to catch up with the rest of the world.
Source: The Express Tribune
November 11, 2016